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tv   News  Al Jazeera  September 16, 2015 10:00am-10:31am EDT

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>> hungarian police fire tear gas at refugees gathered near the serbian border. hello, i'm martine dennis in doha. a scathing report for u.n. calling for international judges and lawyers to prosecute those accused of sri lanka's war crimes. israel's prime minister is expected to visit moscow to discuss the military presence in syria. >> i don't think anybody will be scared. we'll run things properly.
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>> done at trump provokes demonstrations despite his promises as a republican front runner. ♪ but first hungarian riot police have used water cannon on refugees who tried to break the fence that has been erected on the border with serbia. you can see the pictures now. these are the very latest pictures to have come from that borderer area. our correspondent who is there in that vicinity which is just on the serbian side of the border with hungary is mohammed jamjoom. first of all, can you tell us what you personally have witnessed. >> reporter: martine tensions have been rising. we're not where the clashes are taking place. where water cannon was fired and
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tear gas has been fired on some of the refugees. but the logistics of the area is very complicated since the border has been shut down. we're in essentially a noman'sland lying between serbia and hungary, and we're on a stretch of the motorway that has now been closed off where there are hundreds of refugees, in fact there are at least two helicopters one looks like a police helicopter, the other a military helicopter. the crowds around us are cheering because they are continuing to protest the fact that they say they are detained here in serbia, and they should be lead into hungary. the hungarians standing firm on their pledge not to allow refugees into hungary. they have now criminalized crossing illegally into hungary, and we expect that's the reason why they deployed the water cannons. now where we are on the hungarian side of the border
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there is at least one water cannon. it has not been used, but it is there and they have bolstered the police presence. while it is certainly more calm where we are than at the other part of the border crossing, where refugees were trying to cut through the fence, the fact is, people are mad. i met with an iraqi mother earlier, she has been travelling with her two month old baby. her husband is already in germany. >> mohammed -- can i get you to clarify, then, we're looking at pictures where people do seem rather angry. they are sitting there and frustrations are obviously mounting, but why have police gone that extra step and started to use water cannons, are people
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trying to cross the border illegally? >> we have not seen that. we have seen people peering over the fence, looking through the fence pleading with the officials to let them through, we have not seen anybody actually try to break through. but we are told in the location where the tear gas has been fired and the water cannons have been used that the refugees have tried to break through, and that's why hungarian officials responded in that way. that would not be a surprise, if that were the case, because the hungarians have said they are tightening border controls, they have deployed army personnel, they have helicopters circling above, and there is a lot of police presence on the hungarian side of the border. woe were wondering if we were going to see a scenario where this would happen, because the refugees are insistent they are going to try cross into hungary.
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today some are saying they are going to cross into croatia. >> any idea of the how many are stranded between serbia and hungary? any idea what sort of number we're talking about? >> reporter: at this stage it looks like there's between possibly 4 to 500 people. earlier it looked like our best estimate would have been around 200 people. it certainly has grown even if this motorway, throughout the day, and there are volunteers, u.n. officials, police, charities, but there are more refugees walking this way from serbia, all insist they want to be able to pass through hungary, but they are not able to do so, and that is causing them to become basically more desperate by the hour, martine. and from the conversations that you have been having with people on the border, do you understand
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that more people are still continuing to come along this route to the border between serbia and hungary, despite perhaps hearing that hungary has now closed off its border with serbia. >> reporter: we're even seeing that with our eyes. we have been in other parts of serbia coming up to this border earlier today, throughout the day, we have seen refugees making their way up to this border crossing, going to other border crossings, so that influx has not stopped as far as we can say. it certainly is still going on, and from what we hear from the refugees we have been speaking with here, most syrian or iraqi, they say there are still many more on their way here, that will stay here until there's a clarification from the e.u. as far as what is going to happen to them. and some sort of agreement is made with the e.u. countries. >> and this of course is the day
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when hungary has basically said it is going to get tough with these new immigration laws, which criminalize those people who cross in what they consider to be an illegal way; that means crossing that -- trying to get across that razor wire fence that has been established and indeed one -- we understand one iraqi man has been found guilty. there is even a batch of judges that have been put on stand by ready to prosecute, we understand. >> reporter: that's right. the this is a very hard line the hungarians have taken. they enacted laws in which they said they would do this. they are adhering to the time frame they have given themselves. yesterday a few hours after the border was sealed we heard that at least 60 people have been detained. when we were on the hungarian side of the border, we were
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seeing crime scene investigators, trying to get fingerprints and evidence so they could charge the people who tried to cut the border fence. they are very much taking a hard line despite mounting pressure from the e.u., from aid oring niedzations, and rights groups. they say they do not want this influx to continue. they will impose prison sentences if that must be, and it looks like they are going to take all of those measures and possibly more. >> these people you say number perhaps 500 are actually on the serbian side of the border. is there any evidence of the serbian authorities there? and do we have any idea as to what the serbian authorities plan to do with them? >> reporter: the serbian authorities seem a lot more relaxed than the hungarians do.
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even when it comes to the journalists coming and going from the border crossing. it seemed a lot more relaxed on this side of the border than on the hungarian side, and frankly, the refugees we have spoken with have said they have gotten fairly good treatment from the serbians. they feel as though they have been more welcomed. they are angry with the hungarians. the serbians are not sure what the hungarians are going to really doing from here on out. one of the biggest problems for the countries that border hungry that we have heard about in the past week is hungary is not communicating with them on what they plan to do. and that is causing big pressure on countries like austria and serbia as far as how they deal with the crisis. >> mohammed we're looking at a live picture that i don't think you can see. we're looking at ten, 20,
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perhaps hundreds of security officers in riot gear. we see an armored vehicle with flashing lights. at least one. this is clearly an issue of national security as far as the hungarians are concerned. >> reporter: absolutely. in fact just yesterday hungary imposed a state of emergency, some called it a state of crisis for two counties. we are boardering one of those countries right now. and we're seeing a far greater military presence. there are two helicopters circling the sky. there are water cannons. we do not see the live pictures that you are seeing where there are riot police, but we have been told that is going on a short distance away from us. but the logistics of trying to get around today make it difficult to get to that crossing. we believe that may be at one of the foot crossings just a few
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kilometers away. this is expected unfortunately. the hungarians have said they are going to do whatever needed to be done to protect their borders. the actions they are taking clearly are in line with everything they said they would do as far as deploying military, police, just erected more security fences, even going so far as to put a train car that was outfitted with barbed wire in a gap on the crossing on the railway yesterday, so yes, this was clearly expected, although, a lot of the refugees that we have spoken with today, they still didn't understand why hungary is taking the stance they have been taking. they are still imploring the world community, the international community to do something to help them cross into and out of hungary and make it along this journey that they are on and reconnect with their family members. >> the hungarian authorities
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gave the impression that these tough measures that they were putting into place were merely to exercise some control over the process. what they didn't like, they said, was the uncontrolled nature of these people crossing into hungarian territory, most of then passing through into -- obviously into austria, but they wanted to place some order on the process. they also said they were going to provide facilities for people to apply for legal entry into hungary. have you seen any of that? have you seen any of the legal entrance into hungary? >> reporter: what we see is a legal crossing that has now been shut, and although hungarian officials have said that refugees can apply for asylum within hungary, the first issue is -- the refugees do not want to apply for asylum within hungary, the second issue is they are saying that they believe that those applications if they were to apply for them,
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would not be taken seriously, and they would still be turned away, because they are now in serbia and coming from a safe country. it's a very complicated issue. the hungarians have said on many occasions that they are doing this to protect their country, that they will provide help to come in through the proper channels. but these refugees say they can't wait. many have escapes death and destruction. that if hungary doesn't want them in hungary, at least let them pass through. and they can't understand why the e.u. can't get its act together to solve this crisis. >> yeah, from what we're looking still at this live shot, mohammed, it's a view of this border town, and what appears to be water cannon being used. now we haven't got a very
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distinct view of the target of this water cannon, but one can only imagine it is asylum seekers that this is targeting. we have a view of several -- many, perhaps hundreds, even, of police in riot gear, or security operatives, certainly in riot gear, and as i said earlier, a couple of armored vehicles. we have just seen a missile being lobbed in the direction of the water cannon, so tensions are understandably high because of the frustration of those people who, having endured a perilous, arduous journey are now finding the border is firmly closed. now we're seeing pictures of what looks to be people suffering from the effects of some sort of tear gas. people holding their eyes and nose. and there is a lot of rubbish and debris strewn along the
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street. there is also a satellite truck so this is where the media have been. a vertical tent city grows up wherever there has been access for people to get over the border from serbia into hungary, but we're seeing a lot of people looking fairly -- how should we put it -- they are looking fairly disoriented, some covering their noses and mouths, and eyes. a couple of press people still on the scene, and then some young men oning to and fro, so this is a scene of chaos, really, isn't it? because these people are not going to pick themselves up and then make the alternative route, which we know some have already done. we know that more than 200 people have already gone to the other side of hungary's border and gone into croatia. >> reporter: i mean -- absolutely, martine, and really, one of the prevailing moods is one of utter disbelief. many of the refugees that made
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it here today knew the border was sealed, but they still thought there would be enough press release sure from the u.n. and e.u. countries that the hungarians would still allow them to pass through. many have all of their earthly possessions with them they can carry. they have their children. they have been on this journey for so long, and this endless frustration grows. they are in such dire circumstances to have gotten so close to their intended designation, and to be told they are going to be turned away, that really makes it much harder for them to see that kind of roadblock. i spoke to a woman earlier in the day who had come from iraq. her home had been destroyed due to an explosion. she said i can't get to a new home and i have no home to go back to. and these are the kind of stories i hear again and again and again.
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so there is a bit of defiance when you talk to these spoke tos, and they say we can't be turned away. some say i would rather die here or be beaten here if they would just let my children go through. >> and one of the problems is of course, in shutting off this route, they are effectively forcing them into the clutches of the people smugglers, the traffickers, who are going to fleece them for a small fortune in order to take them further on their journey. >> reporter: yeah, absolutely. yesterday i met a man who had come from -- originally from syria, gone through lebanon. he spent $7,000 of his own money to get this far, and now he is told he didn't -- can't go any further, and now he has no money left, and he's trying to find
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another route. but he doesn't have the money to pay a smuggler. he says he doesn't trust the smugglers, because he had had several close calls with them. so he right now is essentially stuck in serbia. and, again, these are the kinds of stories i keep hearing again and again and again, even though they know the roads will get more dangerous, those that have the means will try to get in touch with a smuggler, and go into a situation that they know is very dangerous, so they can try to reach that end destination. >> okay. mohammed thank you for now. but hold on, because we're now going to talk to a refugee program coordinator. he is on the line from the hungarian capitol budapest, and thank you very much for talking to us. i'm not sure whether you are
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able to see the scenes that we are seeing. >> i can't, unfortunately. but i can hear you, and i am following what is happening on the hungarian news. >> okay. your thoughts then on this scene that has descended into chaos right on the border of your country with serbia. >> yes, actually my colleagues and i were there on monday and tuesday. we spent two days on the border, and we were witnessing how the border was closed, basically completely between serb and hungary, and all of the scenes that we saw yesterday was already predicting a terrible situation today. hungary is denying access to the territory of the european union for those asylum seekers, maybe syrians, but also iraqis and all different nationalities. so have access to the territory of the european union.
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so have access to protection and access to the asylum procedure. the hungarian authorities have only allowed a few dozen people through transit zones every day. so you can imagine there are hundreds of hundreds of asylum seekers who are desperate who have been on the road for several months. and they have to queue there and wait for several days to be allowed to enter the transit zone, and even most of them who are allowed to enter are rejected in an absolutely unfair procedure, basically in one hour. you can imagine what kind of quality and fair procedure can be conducted in one hour, considering all of the different problems that are related to asylum seeking. >> absolutely. hungary, in taking this action, is in violation of many layers
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of protection -- international legal protection that is put in place specifically for vulnerable people who are persecuted and live in fear of their lives. hungary, of course is a member of the e.u., but serbia isn't, is it? but they are still obliged, aren't they, under international convenings to provide protection and ray asylum to refugees? >> yes, actually both countries have ratified the geneva convention on human rights which was not allow states to send back people who are -- have a very fear or being tortured or subjected to inhuman treatment. both countries have on that level similar obligations. in addition, as you mentioned, hungary is part of the e.u., just to apply the entire e.u. legislation, a very
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sophisticated legislation that foresees very strict procedures for the status of refugees. lots of procedures are safeguarded under e.u. law. in serbia, even though they have ratified the geneva convention, there is no asylum system. they have granted protection only to a handful of people regardless of the thousands who have applied. when i was there on monday night when the border was closed. we saw many asylum seekers who got stranded on the serbian side of the border, the serbian police officers were standing there without taking any action, basically not bothered by the fact that there are lots of vulnerable people, many of them may be dee hydrated and lots of small kids, and didn't take any
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action. >> absolutely. what do you make of this heavy-handed approach by riot police, then? the use of water cannon, we have certainly seen in the live television pictures that we're looking at now, and there have been reports of the use of tear gas. >> yes, actually the hungarian police action is an organic continuation of what we have been seeing in recent months. hungary does everything and has already declared by the government to actually deter asylum seekers and people in need of protection from coming to the country. they want to show that they are not welcome. they should go away and use another route. and this is in violation of hungary's international obligation. the main border crossing points between serbia and hungary, it's a major point where most of the traffic is happen between the
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two countries. obviously the fact that some asylum seekers yesterday started a hungry strike, exactly why we were there as well, and blocked the road, it has lots of negative consequences. there is no traffic between the two countries at that point. obviously this will not bring any sort of desirable result, unfortunately. however, using excessive force against these people, many of whom who have been subjected to torture and lost everything, i think it's a very inhuman action. if access to protection was not so difficult, maybe even impossible at that part of the border, if hungary was not violating its obligations to provide access to protection for these vulnerable people, then this situation would never have happened. >> okay. >> -- and that situation is the result of this wrong action taken by the hungarian
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government. >> i'm just wondering how scenes like this are going to be received by the hungarian public. you have an election next year, i understand. how is hungarian population likely to receive these scenes? >> according to all of the polls last year, one of the most geno phobia population. also in that sense, the government has sent phobic propaganda, funding a campaign [ inaudible ] in the european country. probably has an impact, and probably was something nice -- or something to be supported for a part of the population. on the other hand what we have been seeing as well, an increasing part of the population is showing some sol
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darety with these people. we receive lots of messages of from people who want to help. however, it's very hard to me dig -- predict. it is also not my task to comment on the election. however, i think it will have an significant impact on how hungary sees immigration as a society. >> i'm just wondering what is going to happen to these people. these people are camped in this position right up at the hungarian border with serbia. what is going to happen for them? who is going to take responsibility for the well-being of these people? >> what we saw yesterday, there were some charity organizations from the serbian side, like though unhcr was present, other aid organizations trying to
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distribute some water. i'm afraid many of these people will be forced through the hands of smugglers to find another way to germany and to protection. we have hear more and more buses taking people from inside serbia to the croatian border, that was exactly what the government in hungary wanted to reach. they were not interested in providing any sort of solution, even less [ inaudible ] by solution. what they wanted was to divert the flow from the hungarian border to somewhere else. i can't predict what is exactly going to happen. i just know that all of these people who were there are left without proper services and proper food. it is over 35 degrees celsius outside. but any day the autumn rains can start. i'm afraid we'll see horrible scenes with the kids and other
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vulnerable sleeping outside in the woods without proper support. i think this is a shame not only to hungary, but the entire european asylum system which apparently cannot react to this kind of situation. >> the hungarian government has insisted that really what it is trying to do is impose order. it said what its objections were to this unchecked flow of people crossing its territory, and what they wanted to do was to abide by the better of european law and to impose control over the process, but unfortunately, we have just been hearing from our correspondent that the avenue for legal crossing into hungry for serbia is actually being closed. >> yes, that's -- that's the problem. at least there are two issues with this statement. first of all establishing order is apparently was not necessary if you believe what the government said that they were
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able to detect 97, 98% of thor rel border crossings. for those two persons they were not able to detect, i would haven't built a fence and put in place such strong deterrence measures that we can see now. on the other hand, they continuously said that there will be legal entry points to hungry. where asylum seekers would reduce their claims, and if they would not cut the fence but come through the borders. this is again not true. we see only two transit zones where they can enter. and the entire border section, these transit zones do not admit at the moment more than 50 to 70 persons a day, and think are excluded basically -- or most are families with small children. if you are a simple man and have no chance of getting any access
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to proper procedure or protection. and finally, even though who are admitted, though few in quotation marks luckily asylum seekers who get in, they are all going to get rejected or have already been rejected, because they came through a country, serbia, which according to the hungarian government is a safe country for asylum seekers. >> how far do you hold germany's action responsible for this chaos that we're seeing. because of course it was germany in the first instance has opened its doors wide, thereby allowing passage through hungary, now germany having put up its borders, austria following closely behind -- i


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